Friday, November 14, 2008

Would hunter Hillary run afoul of Obama's gun question 59?

I read a number of neo-conservative, libertarian-conservative, liberal, and other types of political blogs. Two of the blogs that I regularly read have expressed a concern about the questionnaire that applicants to the Obama administration have to fill out.

Front Sight, Press linked to a post in Learn About Guns, which itself links to a statement from the National Rifle Association, which itself links to a PDF of the Obama questionnaire, hosted at the New York Times.

Question number 59 is the one that has everyone hot:

Do you or any members of your immediate family own a gun? If so, provide complete ownership and registration information. Has the registration ever lapsed? Please also describe how and by whom it is used and whether it has been the cause of any personal injury or property damage.

The NRA's reaction to the question:

Statement from NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre on President-elect Obama's Employment Application Form Demanding to Know if Applicants Are "Registered" Gun Owners

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Obama administration’s employment application proves what NRA has been saying: the Obama administration is anti-firearms ownership and anti-Second Amendment.

And as this litmus test shows, they have every intention of putting together an administration that is hostile to firearms ownership and to Second Amendment rights.

One of their first official acts is to make a list of gun owners among their own employees. It proves where their hearts are. It shows what their philosophy is. This is more proof that this administration is coming after our freedom and NRA stands ready.

Here's part of what Learn About Guns says:

This question concerns me. I can understand inquiring whether a person has committed a crime. I can also understand asking if a person has committed a firearms-related crime in particular. What I can’t seem to find a justification for is asking about the lawful ownership of a gun by an applicant or individual....

I...can’t see this being related to concern over embarrassment should the prospective applicant turn out to be a criminal who has misused a gun. Asking about crimes in general would suffice to address that concern.

In addition to reading Front Sight, Press, I also caught the post in Reverse Vampyr. Here's part of what it said:

Looks like Obama's litmus test for serving in his administration may include surrendering 2nd Amendment rights....

Obama has already been anti-gun for a long time, as evidenced by his voting record. Now that he's ready to rule, it seems the gloves are slowly coming off.

Reverse Vampyr also linked to a previous post, which linked to, which includes several Obama quotes on guns and the Second Amendment, including the following:

Q: Is the D.C. law prohibiting ownership of handguns consistent with an individual's right to bear arms?

A: As a general principle, I believe that the Constitution confers an individual right to bear arms. But just because you have an individual right does not mean that the state or local government can't constrain the exercise of that right, in the same way that we have a right to private property but local governments can establish zoning ordinances that determine how you can use it.

Incidentally, I'm not quite sure how Obama's answer (taken from the April 16 debate in Philadelphia) jibes with Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which reads in part as follows:

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

But let's go back to the Philadelphia debate:

Q: But do you still favor the registration & licensing of guns?

A: I think we can provide common-sense approaches to the issue of illegal guns that are ending up on the streets. We can make sure that criminals don't have guns in their hands. We can make certain that those who are mentally deranged are not getting a hold of handguns. We can trace guns that have been used in crimes to unscrupulous gun dealers that may be selling to straw purchasers and dumping them on the streets.

Source: 2008 Philadelphia primary debate, on eve of PA primary Apr 16, 2008

Now many people, including the NRA and the bloggers cited above, have reached the conclusion that because Obama's transition team was asking these questions, they don't want gun owners in the Obama Administration. (And Dick Cheney was just waiting for that Obama call, I know.)

However, I'm not quite that sure about the conclusion that many have reached, primarily because of the other big transition news. Sharon Cobb linked to the New York Post:

We may soon be calling Hillary Rodham Clinton "Madame Secretary."

President-elect Barack Obama is considering the New York senator and former first lady for secretary of state....

Two Democratic officials confirmed that Clinton - long rumored to be a contender for the job - is under serious consideration.

Now what does that have to do with question 59? Well, go back to Pennsylvania and what the Huffington Post reported about Obama's comments at a fundraiser in California:

[W]hen he spoke to a group of his wealthier Golden State backers at a San Francisco fund-raiser...Barack Obama took a shot at explaining the yawning cultural gap that separates a Turkeyfoot from a Marin County. "You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them," Obama said. "And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

You may recall that the comments drew a sharp denunciation from...Hillary Clinton. An ABC News blog recorded one of Clinton's comments:

"You know my dad took me out behind the cottage my grandfather built on a little lake called Lake Winola outside of Scranton and taught me how to shoot when I was a little girl," she said. "You know some people have continued to teach their children and their grandchildren. It's part of culture, it's part of a way of life. People enjoy hunting and shooting because it's part of who they are. not because they are bitter."

Now I figure that if Obama was able to run a competent and winning campaign, he presumably has the ability to run a competent and winning transition. And if the Obama camp truly wanted to keep all of the gun owners out of their administration, they'd watch out about putting Hillary Clinton on the short list. Now I have no idea if she owns a gun today, but people in Pennsylvania and the Midwest are bound to remember that she stuck up for them once.

And if Obama doesn't remember Hillary, perhaps he should remember this woman:

She was the most famous spokesperson for civil rights, at a time when the idea of equal rights for people of color was very politically incorrect. "We can't afford to have two kinds of citizens," she insisted. "We must have equal citizenship for anybody in our country."

And though she was a well-known talker, she also walked the walk. In 1958, at age 74, she made plans to go down to Tennessee to speak at a civil-rights workshop at the Highlander Folk School.

The Ku Klux Klan learned about her plans. The day before her trip, the elderly, gray-haired woman was contacted by the FBI. "We can't guarantee your safety," they told her. "The Klan's put a bounty on your head, a $25,000 bounty on your head. We can't protect you. You can't go." But the little old lady answered, "I didn't ask for your protection. . . . I have a commitment. I'm going."

And she did. She flew down to the Nashville airport, where she was joined by a friend, an elderly white woman aged 71. The pair got into the car, lay a loaded pistol on the front seat between them, and drove into the night. No Secret Service or police escort. Just the two little old ladies with a gun to keep them safe. They set out for their destination, a " tiny labor school[,] to conduct a workshop on how to break the law, how to conduct non-violent civil disobedience." They drove through the heart of Klan territory to teach people how to fight for freedom....

That determined grandmother, of course, was Eleanor Roosevelt. And it was Eleanor's handgun, not some hired bodyguard, that helped her stay alive in the face of real danger.

Ah, but Eleanor's husband Franklin was Ronald Reagan's hero. Ah, but Obama admired some things about Reagan:

I don't want to present myself as some sort of singular figure. I think part of what's different are the times. I do think that for example the 1980 was different. I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.

I seem to have digressed, so let me get back on track by going to The Gun Toting Liberal (tagline: "Slightly Left of Center...But Always On Target"). Here is part of GTL's reaction to Clinton as Secretary of State:

One thing [Clinton and Condoleezza Rice] have in common, aside from the OBVIOUS, is they share a hard-headed mindset and are reluctant to relent even when common sense called the need for a little bit of “diplomacy”, another is the fact Condi is a Republican and Sir Hillary, a relatively little-published stint as FORMER Republican activist.

Secretary of Education or some other cabinet appointment where her [psst... "alleged" body count] is unlikely to increase. That’s just THIS blogger’s [opinion], of course. Your mileage may vary....

I have been hoping and praying for years we wouldn’t have to listen to four to eight years of “Shrillary” sound bites but it’s not looking too good for MOI right now, is it?

And Emily Yoffe of Slate is even wondering about what Hillary's application would look like - but not about question 59:

There are so many questions that might be troublesome, from No. 6, concerning "whether you or your spouse" ever received money from any foreign entities (See Bill's amazing Kazakhstan adventure), to No. 8, asking for a description of the "most controversial matters you have ever been involved in," to No. 12, "Please identify all speeches you have given" to my favorite, No. 13, in which the candidate is asked to describe any electronic communication they have ever sent that might be "a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the President-Elect." There isn't enough bandwith in the world for Hillary to attach all the documents that answer these questions.

Well, if Gerald Ford could get Nelson Rockefeller through a Senate confirmation as Vice President, Barack Obama could surely get Hillary Clinton through a Senate confirmation as Secretary of State. After all, Senators are usually nice to one of their own. Usually (another Emily Yoffe article, by the way).

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